Theory: most native mobile apps don't take advantage of the things that make native mobile apps special?That tweet was inspired by a conversation with Scott Jenson in which he asked: "what is mobile good at?" My response was: "anything that gets better if you can do it everywhere and add new sensors or transmitters."
— Adewale Oshineye (@ade_oshineye) December 22, 2014
I think I now have a better answer to a slightly different but more evocative question: what makes native mobile apps special?
Firstly these apps are special because they can use every sensor and transmitter on your mobile phone. That means they will also be the first to get access to new sensors and transmitters as they are added to these devices. This gives them more power than any other apps that have ever existed.
Secondly these apps are special because they're installed in a device that the user will carry around all day every day. That means that they will see more usage per user since there will be so many more opportunities to use them. It may even be time to start measuring average usage per user (AUPU) as a more quantitative version of Larry Page's 'toothbrush test.'
Finally these apps are special because they're on devices that will eventually end up in the hands of every post-pubescent person on the planet. That means they will eventually end up with more users than anything we've seen so far.